What is the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol?
At the time, we are seeing a large influx of all-season and all-terrain tires that are severe snow service-rated, and therefore branded with the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol. This is a trend we expect to continue, with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol eventually becoming the norm for all-season tires. While these tires are sometimes incorrectly labeled “all-weather” tire, what they are called is secondary to what they represent. Contrary to the “M+S” branding typically found on all-season tires, which is simply based on the tread pattern geometry and makes no guarantees of any performance capabilities, when the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol is branded on a tire, it indicates that tire has surpassed a minimum threshold in light snow acceleration traction.
So what, specifically, does the 3PMSF symbol mean?
In 1999, The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) agreed on a performance-based standard to identify passenger and light truck tires that attain a traction index equal to, or greater than 110 (compared to a reference tire which is rated 100) during the specified American Society for Testing and Materials traction tests on packed snow. The standard is intended to help ensure drivers can easily identify tires that provide a higher level of snow traction, and tires meeting that standard are branded with the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol.
Some important information to remember about 3PMSF branding.
- Testing measures a tire’s acceleration traction on medium-packed snow only. Braking and turning on snow, along with ice traction are not components of the test.
- Tires branded with the 3PMSF symbol are expected to provide improved snow traction beyond a standard M+S branded all-season tire, however 3PMSF-branded all-season and all-terrain tires cannot match the traction of dedicated winter / snow tires in all winter weather conditions and should not be considered a replacement for where and when a dedicated winter tire is needed.